Imam, Leadership, & Respect
By Imam Abdullah El-Amin
â€œO ye who believe! Put not yourselves forward before ALLAH and His Messenger; but fear ALLAH: for ALLAH is He who hears and knows all things. 2. O ye who believe! Raise not your voices above the voice of the Prophet, nor speak aloud to him in talk, as ye may speak aloud to one another, lest your deeds become vain and ye perceive not. 3. Those that lower their voice in the presence of ALLAHÃS Messengerâ€”their hearts has ALLAH tested for piety. For them is forgiveness and a great reward. 4. Those who shout out to thee from without the Inner Apartmentsâ€”most of them lack understanding. 5. If only they had patience until thou couldst come out to them, it would be best for them: but ALLAH is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful
On July 4, 1976, Imam Wallace D. Mohammed, leader of the Muslim American Society, delivered a stirring talk entitled â€œThe Need For Leadership.â€ In the talk were references to how leadership is subtly and overtly disrespected. This is done in many ways such as constantly finding fault with the leader, putting obstacles in his path or refusing to remove obstacles from his path, or treating him like â€œone of the boys.â€ When the Prophet (s) was among us physically, ALLAH had to remind the believers to treat him with respect. Looking at where the people came from (Jahyliaâ€”ignorance) it is no wonder they had to be reminded. Can you imagine having the Messenger of ALLAH (s) in your midst and shouting into his house like he was your street running buddy?
We may wonder why ALLAH put these ayahs in the Qur`an. The Prophet (s) is no longer physically with us so He couldnâ€™t be talking to us about shouting into the Prophetâ€™s (s) dwelling. That is not physically possible. But since we believe that every word of the Qur`an is meant for our guidance, then, without doubt, ALLAH intends this as a sign for human beings in our dealing with each other.
Does this mean that we are to treat our leaders as kings and princes? No, not at all. But it does mean that we are to be intelligent and respectful to those ALLAH allows to be in charge. You may notice when the President of the U.S. enters the halls of Congress, everybody jumps to their feet to give him a standing ovation until he reaches the front. Then when the Speaker of the House formally announces him, the applause starts all over again. It is a respect for the officeâ€”not necessarily the man.
ALLAH reminds us of this because the community cannot prosper with such behavior. Yusef Ali says in his commentary that to behave in such a manner can destroy the good intentions of any service you may have wished to perform. You might be looked upon with disfavor without you even realizing your action was disliked. ALLAH says â€œmost of them lack understanding,â€ but nevertheless the damage is done.
In order for us to be successful, we must take on the spirit of the Qur`an. We must drop cultural and ethnic hang-ups and adopt the plain and simple, but strong language of the Qur`an. Itâ€™s the only way to be Muslim and be successful.
As Salaam Alaikum
(Al Hajj) Abdullah Bey El-Amin
Imam, Leadership, & Respect